September 12, 2023

Written By: ROSS LONG 

Ross Long is an ocean, adventure, lifestyle photographer based in Byron Bay, Australia. 

'My purpose is to help humans consider their relationship with nature. My mission is to best serve ocean conservation as best as I can'.

SHARE TO:

PINTEREST

Facebook

Twitter

The Stories Behind my Exhibited Photos from ‘The Circle of Life’ Exhibition

On the 14th September, I held my exhibition ‘The Circle of Life’. This collection captures the endangered green sea turtle’s remarkable journey amidst the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Each image reflects countless hours dedicated to documenting this 1 in 1000 chance of making it from hatchling to adult – a testament of resilience. 

I have summarised the stories behind the images that were exhibitied below. These images are also available to purchase on my store. Click here to get yours.

1. Green Sea Turtle’s Twilight Delight

Taken on the enchanting shores of Lady Elliot Island during the magical winter month of August, a graceful green sea turtle engages in a delicate dance with a radiant jellyfish. Both were bathed in the gentle, golden embrace of the approaching sunset.

It was the ocean’s currents that guided me to this extraordinary spectacle. Surface-feeding manta rays acted as celestial guides, revealing the hidden wonders beneath the waves. Initially, two turtles joined in the jelly feast, but after some squabbling, one vanished into the depths. As the sun embarked on its evening descent, it was just me, the jellyfish, and the solitary turtle, all wrapped in the soothing ambiance of the golden twilight.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

2. Green Sea Turtle’s Drift

In the serene lagoon of Lady Elliot Island, a solitary green sea turtle embarks on a graceful journey. Drifting gently with the outgoing tide, this turtle is leaving the shallow and sheltered waters of the lagoon into the deep blue. The turtle’s journey is not merely a physical drift but a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of life in this fragile ecosystem. It carries with it the hopes and dreams of those who work tirelessly to protect these precious waters.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

3. Green Sea Turtle’s Demise

A recently hatched green turtle hatchling defied the odds by making a valiant journey beyond the treacherous beach of Heron Island where many of its siblings fell prey to the relentless seagulls. With determination in its tiny flippers, it ventured into the vast, unforgiving ocean, where a world of uncertainty and peril awaits.

As the hatchling paddled through the waves, it was not alone in its pursuit of survival. Above, a squadron of seagulls circled, their keen eyes fixed on the defenceless newcomer. The hatchling, vulnerable and inexperienced, became the focal point of their relentless stalking.

In a tragic twist of fate, the hatchling’s resilience was ultimately no match for the cunning seagulls. It was plucked from the water and carried away.

This image symbolises the harsh realities that sea turtles endure in their quest to reach adulthood. With only a 1 in 2000 chance (based on latest studies) of surviving to maturity, their journey is a testament to nature’s relentless trials. This poignant moment serves as a somber reflection on the struggles and fragility of sea turtle populations, highlighting the imperative of safeguarding their habitats and nurturing their chances of a long and meaningful life.

This image isn’t available on my store, but if you would like it you can contact me here

4. Green Sea Turtle’s Legacy: A Mother’s Journey

Bathed in the gentle embrace of a Heron Island sunrise, a resilient green sea turtle embarks on her poignant journey back to the ocean. She carries with her the precious legacy of a long night’s labor, leaving behind a nest of hope in the sands. This nest will contain around 115 eggs which will incubate for around 60 days. Research shows that if a turtle’s eggs incubate below 27.7° Celsius, the turtle hatchlings will be male. If the eggs incubate above 31° Celsius, the hatchlings will be female. The mother will begin her migration unsure as to whether her nest will be successful but will return to Heron island somewhere between 2 -5 years.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

5. Green Sea Turtle Following the Tracks of an Elder

An award winning image in this year’s Sony Alpha Awards and a current Finalist in the Oceanographic Ocean Photographer of the Year with the result announced in September.

In a remarkable and rarely witnessed moment, a freshly hatched green turtle hatchling races past its fully grown counterpart on the journey to the ocean. This captivating image serves as a poignant metaphor for the monumental challenges that lie ahead for the young hatchling in its quest to reach adulthood.

This extraordinary scene reminds us of the unbeatable spirit of nature and the resilience of these ancient creatures. It is a testament to the hurdles faced by the hatchling, as it navigates a world where size is not the measure of determination. This image inspires reflection on the fragile balance of life in our oceans and the imperative of conservation efforts to safeguard the future of these remarkable beings.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

6. Green Sea Turtle’s Reflection

A green sea turtle gracefully navigates the tranquil waters of Lady Musgrave Island’s Lagoon. On those rare blue bird days where even the gentlest of breezes have been forgotten, the surface of the water becomes remarkably calm, allowing for a striking natural phenomenon to occur. When this green sea turtle surfaced for a breath of air, the undisturbed water became a flawless mirror, reflecting its form with precision.

Green sea turtles are known for their remarkable ability to hold their breath for extended periods. When they are actively swimming or foraging for food underwater, they typically surface to breathe every few minutes. This can vary depending on the individual turtle’s activity level, with some turtles taking shorter dives and others staying submerged for longer periods.

When resting or sleeping, green sea turtles can hold their breath underwater for as long as five hours. To do this, they slow their heart rate to up to nine minutes in between heart beats to conserve oxygen!

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

7. Green Sea Turtle’s First Dip

This Green Sea Turtle Hatchling is not out of danger yet. Although it has managed to survive the dangers of being swooped by seagulls on the beaches, it now faces a series of other predators that lurk in the depths of the ocean. Sharks are tuned in to hatchling season and generally lurk in the shallow waters waiting for the hatchlings to enter their territory.

Black Tip Reef Sharks are the main predator with the occasional tiger shark. The hatchling are also still at risk of being swopped by seagulls, hatchlings need to come to the surface of the ocean for air every 20-30 seconds and so seagulls can quite easily pluck them from the water. The hatchling needs to make it past the reef and into the depths in order to increase its chances of survival. The hatchling will therefore spend the next 24-48 hours on a swim frenzy of continuous swimming. After this the hatchling will then enter what is known as ‘the lost years’ and will be rarely seen for 1-3 years.

Researchers generally agree that most hatchlings spend their first few years living an oceanic existence before appearing in coastal areas. Although the migratory patterns of the young turtles during the first year has long been a puzzle, most researchers believe that they ride prevailing surface currents, situating themselves in floating seaweed or drift wood where they are can find food.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

8. Green Sea Turtle’s Rainbow Odyssey

Photographed on Heron Island, this Green Sea Turtle was foraging in the shallow reefs near to a submerged shipwreck. In all my 55,000 plus photos of turtles, I have never once had a rainbow appear. When asked how I captured this phenomenon in this photograph, I only have one theory and that is that a scratch on my dome port (which the camera lens sits inside of) reflected the morning light that shone through the calm surface of the water and such an angle caused the rainbow to appear. What blows me away is how perfectly positioned this rainbow is.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

9. Green Sea Turtle’s Adventure begins

A journey of significance unfolds as this Green Sea Turtle hatchling emerges from its nest on Heron Island and embarks on its quest for the water’s edge. Over countless generations, these remarkable hatchlings have honed their instincts, mastering the art of survival. Their emergence from beneath the sand is synchronised with the cooling of their clutch as the sun begins to set. Here, they patiently await the collective moment when all their siblings have also hatched, for they know that their chances of survival are greatly enhanced when they undertake the journey from nest to ocean under the cloak of darkness and in larger numbers. A typical clutch contains an average of 115 hatchlings, each bearing the weight of uncertain odds.

While some hatchlings will successfully reach the water’s embrace, others may falter in the face of predators. Green sea turtles possess an extraordinary ability to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field as their guide, a skill that will serve this hatchling well as it embarks on its lifelong odyssey. If it is a female, this very beach will etch itself into her memory, for she will return here once she reaches maturity to fulfil her destiny, laying her own precious eggs in the sands of where she was born.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

10. Green Sea Turtle’s Life on the Surface

A green sea turtle gracefully comes to the surface for air and spends some time hovering on the surface. turtles need to be able to see clearly both underwater and out of water. They accomplish this by having flat corneas and spherical lenses. As such they have perfect vision underwater and can see quite well out of water. Do sea turtles see in colour? The answer is yes. Sea turtles have the photoreceptor cells necessary to see in colour

Though a sea turtle’s eyes are small in proportion to their body, their pupils are quite large. They’re also able to see near-ultraviolet, blue-green and yellow light. This allows them to detect the glow of their bioluminescent prey. Unfortunately, while this allows them to see bioluminescence and navigate using celestial light, it also makes them vulnerable to light pollution. Not only does beachfront artificial light discourage females from nesting, but it poses a serious threat to hatchlings. Hatchlings have an inborn tendency to move in the direction of natural light, and artificial beach lighting will often misguide them away from the ocean.

Love this image? You can purchase yours here

I hope you enjoyed seeing and reading about my ten exhibited images. If you would like to see more images in the Circle of Life Collection which were not exhibited and included above, please head over to my store and see my collection here

September 12, 2023

Written By:

Ross Long is an ocean, adventure, lifestyle photographer based in Byron Bay, Australia. 

'My purpose is to help humans consider their relationship with nature. My mission is to best serve ocean conservation as best as I can'.

SHARE TO:

PINTEREST

Facebook

Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *